Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rehearsal week for our Christmas concerts!

This week our rehearsals take us to Duke Chapel. We had our final rehearsal last night with the orchestra.
If you are looking for traditional Christmas carols in an amazing setting to get into the holiday spirit, this is the place to be this weekend. Choral Society of Durham is performing them along with other music for our December concert this year.
Our biggest challenge this year has been learning the french pronounciation for a few of the carols. However, being the diverse group we are,we have members who are fluent so you will be quite pleased at what you will hear.

For me personally, singing at Duke Chapel is an experience I never thought I'd have. I went to university in Illinois and happened to work for the public radio station at Western Illinois University (WIUM-FM). Aside from being a reporter, my duties included watching over the evening broadcasts of classic music. Some of the performances originated from Duke Chapel and I remembered making a note to myself that I needed to add a trip to Durham to my Goddard's list to hear music in this beautiful spot.

Fast-forward about ten years and I'm living in Durham. Not only do I get to hear music here anytime I want to, but I am fortunate enough to have made it into this fine group, and they sing in the Chapel! It seems that once a season I find myself at the brink of being overcome with emotion at how lucky I am.

I hope you will come to hear us and experience this for yourself. We have a lot of people in our audiences each year for our concerts (Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 4pm) but we always seem to manage to get everyone in to hear us. However, to be on the safe side, try to get there about 30-45 minutes early so you can get your tickets if you don't have them already(available from CSD members or check out this link:

We look forward to filling you with the Christmas spirit!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Silver tonsils unite....are you ready?

Its time to hydrate,find the comfy shoes and make friends again with good old A-440.
After a summer off for the Choral Society of Durham, our first rehearsal of the 2010-2011 season is tonight. Its always a fun reunion... we see who returned, who made it through auditions last week and who is auditioning this evening to become new members...and we swap 'how I spent my summer vacation' stories.
Then the music begins. Some folks have been singing throughout the summer and there are folks like myself who have only this as their musical outlet.In other words, for some of us, tonight will be a night of getting the dust out of the pipes!
If you've not yet heard our group, why not try us for the Holidays this year? If you've never been to Duke Chapel for some music, it is an amazing experience that you need to put on your list to do when you can.
We've made it much easier for you to get your season or individual concert tickets this year! We have now given you the convenience of PayPal,so get the family plans together, call your friends, make a night of it.. Check it out on our home page for concert and paypal information:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Want to see what its like to sing with the Choral Society of Durham? Now's your chance!

The IBM hall located in the basement of the Durham Arts Council building is not quite as loud on Monday nights.....for now.

Just as you enjoy might enjoy music on a daily basis, we enjoy making music! Its about this time (hmmm, 2 months or so into our summer break)that we get the itch for getting together, sharing our 'so-far-this-summer' experiences and making some lovely sounds.

How would you like to see what a rehearsal is like under the baton of Rodney Wynkoop? Have you considered singing with us? Come take our group for a test run, er, sing!

Our annual summer sing-through will consist of some of the repertoire for our 2010-2011 season, so you'll not only get a chance to join Rodney and our singers in action behind the scenes, but you'll know of our upcoming season before your friends get their annual brochures!

We'll have a social after our sing-through, so you'll have a chance to get to know us, know about our group and see if you'd like to audition with us this fall. You'll see why folks come to sing with us and then stay for years, making beautiful music!

Our sing-through will be Monday, July 26th from 7:30-9pm at Blacknall Presbyterian church, 1902 Perry st, Durham, 27705. For more information, contact us through our website :
Choral Society of Durham website:

Classical Voice North Carolina review of our performance of the Dvorak 'Requiem'

Dvořák Requiem: Stunning Music, Stunning Performance

by Steve Row

February 28, 2010, Durham, NC: One is hard-pressed to describe the performance of Antonín Dvořák's Requiem, Op. 89, by the Choral Society of Durham in anything but the most glowing of terms. We often have heard great music given less-than-great performance, or even less-than-great music given great performance. But before a large audience in the lovely setting of Duke University Chapel, choir, soloists and orchestra — not to mention music — came together in a sublime combination that, to some, proved that God is in His heaven, and all is right with the world.

Perhaps we first should address the music. Why Dvořák's Requiem is not better known is a mystery. Situated somewhere between the operatic grandeur of Verdi's Requiem and Brahms' movingly emotional "German" Requiem is this wonder of late 19th century choral composition. While known mainly as an orchestrator who loved incorporating Czech and Slavic melody into his compositions, Dvořák here resides solidly in the first rank of choral composers. His Stabat Mater is probably better known, but it is not necessarily a better work. And he seems to have put his Czech melody hat away for this piece, so that one can hear melody and scoring that more closely resemble Verdi, Brahms, even Liszt.

Gorgeous lines for choir and soloists, and a well-crafted score for the accompanying orchestra, permeate this work from start to finish. If you are seeking a choral piece with extended (more operatic) solos, look elsewhere, for Dvořák has provided a variety of solo highlights, though not necessarily ones in as much of a spotlight as, say, Verdi's Requiem. But if you are seeking a choral piece that seamlessly blends choir with soloists, as well as providing some wonderful orchestral lines, this certainly is worth a listen.

The somber "Requiem aeternam" opening gives a hint of the beauty that will follow for the rest of the piece, with shifts in dynamics for the choir as it balances against solos, all augmented by orchestra. Quick crescendos fade just as quickly to diminuendos, and the interesting mix of rhythms in the closing "Kyrie eleison" line, with the women singing in faster tempo and men in slower tempo, is quite unexpected.

Other unusual aspects of the composition include pairing solo lines with choral accompaniment from the opposite gender. In the ninth section, "Offertorium," for example, a mezzo-soprano solo follows a choral introduction by the men's voices, and shortly a bass solo line is joined by the women's voices.

The parts of the Requiem that should instill fear certainly do — the "Dies irae" has a choral line for the women that evokes terror — and the contrast with sweeter passages, such as the "Tuba mirum" that follows, is striking.

As the program notes pointed out, the Requiem contains two distinct parts, and if the opening group of eight sections ending with "Lacrimosa" seems to be dominated by a minor-key presence, the second part of five sections seems to have more of a major-key feeling.

Highlights of the music? Certainly the glorious full chorus in "Tuba mirum," with the hearty organ chord at the end, is thrilling, but even that pales in comparison to the "quam olim Abrahae promisisti" line in the "Offertorium," which even gets repeated in the next "Hostias" section. Here, all musical forces are brought to bear, from solos to small ensemble to full chorus to orchestra, and part of the section is even a fugue. And the closing "Agnus Dei" section, with its nice mix of solos, duets, trios and closing quartet that opens the "lux perpetua" line, is simply beautiful.

Such a first-rate work demands first-rate performers, and the Choral Society of Durham, led by Rodney Wynkoop, delivered on all counts. And the four soloists — soprano Rochelle Ellis, mezzo-soprano Sharon Munden, tenor Wade Henderson and bass John Kramar — were first-rate as well. The voices of Ellis and Munden have a darker color, which led to wonderful blends in the many duets and conveyed the emotional nature of the music quite nicely. Henderson’s tenor was bright but not overly so, and Kramar provided a rich fullness at the lower end of the score. The men so effortlessly met the demands of the music, and the strength of their voices remained uncompromised throughout this long composition. The singers’ duets, trios and quartets often were stunning, and all four provided real music, not just sound, individually and in small ensemble.

The chorus, which exceeded 150 voices, was obviously well-rehearsed for this piece. The “Confutatis” section, with staggered entrances in the bold, forceful lines giving way to much sweeter singing, was an example of how well the singers handled the dynamic challenges of the score, with neither energy nor diction flagging. A few parts of the score that required the lower basses to sustain a Russian-like choral sound were performed flawlessly. The women provided their own richness of sound both by themselves and with the men and some of their lines sounded as if angels were singing in the chapel.

The orchestra of more than 50 players was quite well-prepared, too. The strings were spot-on during the entire piece, and several wind solos were quite lovely. The brasses provided the necessary boldness and forcefulness to certain sections without blaring. In only one section, the fourth “Tuba mirum,” did there seem to be a slight imbalance between voices and orchestra, with the softest choral passages overpowered by the orchestra.

Some musical experiences can be considered pleasant. Some can be considered enjoyable. Some can be considered wonderful. And some can be considered almost transformative, so filled with beauty and energy and skill that they linger long after the last note fades away. Such was the experience of this performance. What a treasure!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Choral Society of Durham to perform Beethoven's Missa Solemnis at Duke Chapel

The Choral Society of Durham, under the direction of Rodney Wynkoop, will perform Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with orchestra on Saturday, May 8, 2010, at Duke Chapel.

This demanding and rarely performed work employs large orchestra, chorus, and solo quartet. Conceived for a ceremonial occasion, the Mass is a work of grandeur, in the tradition of Bach’s Mass in B Minor and the late masses of Mozart and Haydn. But it is also, as Beethoven’s inscriptions on the score tell us, a highly personal expression of the composer’s religious beliefs and ethical ideas, from the opening Kyrie (“from the heart, may it go to the heart”) to the closing Agnus Dei (“a prayer for inner and outer peace”).

The performance will take place in Duke University Chapel on Duke University's West Campus at 8 p.m.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.choral- Tickets are $20 for adults. Admission for students is free.

About The Choral Society of Durham:
The Choral Society of Durham has earned a reputation as one of the Southeast’s finest symphonic choruses. The 150-voice mixed chorus includes members from all walks of life, selected by audition from throughout North Carolina’s Triangle area.

Founded in 1949, the Choral Society of Durham (North Carolina) has a long-standing reputation for excellence in performing great choral literature with professional orchestra and regionally and nationally known soloists. We also engage in outreach to music students in area public schools. Our 32-voice Chamber Choir, often featured in portions of Choral Society concerts, also presents its own concerts and makes guest appearances in the community.

A nonprofit corporation, the Choral Society receives funding through ticket revenues, Friends donations, grants, CD sales and membership dues.

The Choral Society is a funded affiliate of the Durham Arts Council, which currently provides about 3% of our budget, plus office and rehearsal space in the Arts Council Building.

Our concerts are made possible in part through gifts to the Durham Arts Council United Arts Fund and support from the City of Durham, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dvorak 'Requiem'... a huge success!

The review of our recent performance of the Dvorak 'Requiem', courtesy of Classical Voice North Carolina:

We performed this work to a full house at Duke those of you who attended, thank you and please let us know what you thought of the performance. It was a pleasure to present this delightful music. We also had many generous contributions to our Haiti Relief collection. Thank you to those who gave what they could.

Our next concert: Beethoven 'Missa Solemnis' .... Duke Chapel, Saturday May 8th at 8pm.
Stay tuned for more information. We look forward to seeing you then!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rare performance of Dvorak Requiem coming up February 28th at Duke Chapel

The Choral Society of Durham, under the direction of Rodney Wynkoop, will perform Antonin Dvorák’s Requiem with orchestra on Sunday, February 28, 2010 at Duke Chapel.

Although not very well known, Dvorák's Requiem (1890), is an ambitious work for SATB soloists, chorus, and full orchestra with organ. Never intended for liturgical use, it was commissioned for concert performance at the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival in England, where Dvorák's music was much acclaimed.

The composer's native Czech folk music is present to a lesser degree in the Requiem than in other works. Instead, Dvorák's funeral mass is a musically dense, large-scale work which reflects the intensity and anxiety of its text.
The Choral Society, which has never before performed this work, is dedicating the performance to the many thousands who lost their lives in the earthquake in Haiti.

The concert will also serve as a fundraiser for Haitian earthquake relief. All donations (exclusive of ticket proceeds) will go to International Medical Corps, a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, International Medical Corps is a private, voluntary, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization.

International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team is currently in Haiti, providing medical care, emergency shelter and delivery of other essential items. International Medical Corps is also helping to train Haitian medical students in basic first aid and more advanced care.

The performance will take place in Duke University Chapel on Duke University's West campus at 4 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Tickets are $20 for adults. Admission for students is free.
The Choral Society's 2009-2010 season finale will be a performance of Beethoven's massive Missa Solemnis (May 8).
For more information on International Medical Corps, visit

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Choral Society of Durham’s Chamber Choir and The Mallarmé Chamber Players present a joint concert:

Historical Bach

Sunday, February 7 at 3:00 pm

First Presbyterian Church, 305 E. Main Street, Durham

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach performed as it might have been heard by Bach himself. Mallarmé and the Choral Society of Durham team up to present a concert of three Cantatas and the 2nd Orchestral Suite, performed with historically informed performance practices. This is an approach where musicians play on period instruments, utilizing historical treatises and evidence to gain insight into the stylistic and technical aspects of the way a work might have been performed at the time it was composed. Baroque players from all over North Carolina and beyond will participate in the concert.

This concert is co-sponsored by TEMPO


Sunday, February 7, 2010 3:00 pm

First Presbyterian Church, Durham

PROGRAM: J. S. Bach Cantata No. 190 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied!

Cantata No. 196 Der Herr denket an uns

Orchestral Suite No. 2

Cantata No. 137 Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren


Rodney Wynkoop, conductor; Rebecca Troxler, baroque flute; Kristen Blackman, soprano; Erica Dunkle, alto;

Wade Henderson, tenor; Jane Lynch, harpsichord

Ticket Information: Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Ticket information is available at our website:

Founded in 1949, the Choral Society of Durham has a long-standing reputation for excellence in performing great choral literature with professional orchestra and regionally and nationally known soloists. They also engage in outreach to music students in area public schools. The 32-voice Chamber Choir, often featured in portions of Choral Society concerts, also presents its own concerts and makes guest appearances in the community.

The Mallarmé Chamber Players, founded in 1984, is a flexible ensemble of professional musicians based in Durham, North Carolina, whose mission is to enrich the lives of the community through outstanding chamber music performance. The ensemble distinguishes itself in the community by its innovative educational programs, its commitment to creative collaboration with other organizations, its creation of significant new work and its dedication to serve a diverse population.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Rehearsal for Dvorak

....about 6 weeks now until the performances for the Dvorak...
The Chamber choir is performing in less than a month with Mallarme Chamber Players! We'll be posting information about that later this week.

Want to learn more about us and our upcoming performances? Check out our website at